Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 16

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

Ginny woke to the sound of bird song and wondered why the ceiling was a pristine white instead of the warm magnolia-cream she had chosen for her bedroom in the cottage. Then she realised the answer and sat up swiftly. She remembered shouting at the vicar and then having the oddest impression that he was a giant rabbit, before she fell. Then she must have hit her head on the stone floor. 
The poor bats. If she was unconscious he might have-
But then maybe not. Presumably some kind person had helped her and perhaps they had been in time to save the bats from the crazy vicar too. Feeling the back of her head there was no trace of the kind of bump she might have expected. Perhaps that was why she was in someone’s guest room and not in hospital. Though it was very odd they hadn’t taken her straight to Bedchester General A&E.
Ginny sat up, and realised someone had removed her outer clothes and put her into a voluminous one-size-fits-elephants nightie in a rather ghastly fabric that looked like it had been inspired by an Edwardian tea set. She looked around, but couldn’t see her clothes anywhere obvious.
The room was spare and sparsely furnished, with a wooden floor, white walls, and shutters in lieu of curtains. There were no pictures or ornaments to give away anything about whose house she might be in, but the bed was superbly comfortable and the bed linens seemed to be of the most expensive quality. Even if they were as white and plain as everything else about the room.
Through the window she could see the church and the little stand of trees from which she had made her mad attempt to protect the bats from the vicar’s malice.
She had barely had a chance to do more than take in her surroundings when after a brief knock, which seemed to be more by way of a warning than a request, the door opened and a woman came in carrying a pile of clothes.
Ginny was pretty sure this was a stranger, as she knew she would have remembered – with rueful jealousy – anyone this effortlessly chic. Never mind that the woman was neither young nor particularly slender, she had style to burn. It wasn’t that she was wearing designer jeans and a cashmere jumper Ginny mentally priced at several hundred pounds, it was the way she carried herself and the sharpness of the cheekbones that all but sliced through the skin in an obviously aristocratic face. Whoever this was, Ginny suddenly had the thought that she might like to become this person when she grew up.
“Oh good! You’re awake. I apologise for the dreadful night wear, Agnes has very strange ideas of such things, but at least it avoids any possible embarrassment when your hostess walks in on you unexpectedly.”
Ginny rather thought that if any apology was due it was not for the nightdress, more for walking in without asking, but she decided not to say so.
The woman put the clothes down on the end of the bed.
“I’m Emmeline Vanderbilt. We spoke on the phone last week as I recall. Call me Em.”
“Ginny. Ginny Cropper. But you probably knew that.”
“Yes. I did.” She held up a hand as Ginny opened her mouth to ask the most pressing of the many questions that rushed to her lips. “Breakfast – well more brunch – is served downstairs. We can talk when you’ve had something to eat and a nice cup of tea. En suite through that door and I brought a selection of things you might wear. Hopefully I’m a better judge of what might fit you and your style than Agnes. See you in a few minutes.”
Strangely, Em seemed to have gone, and closed the door behind her, before Ginny could say a word. Feeling a little put out, but very happy at the thought of something to eat – she’d had this odd gnawing hunger since she woke up – Ginny inspected the clothes on offer. 
Somehow she was not surprised to find that almost all of the items had designer labels – the discreet kind rather than the ones that were blazoned like a badge. She had a quick shower then chose an earth colour blend blouson top  and found a pair of slightly flared jeans that fitted well enough to go with it. 
Scrutinising herself in the mirror, Ginny decided the effect was not at all bad. She had feared she might find she looked ‘mutton dressed as lamb’, but far from it. She might not match Em Vanderbilt for chic, but she still looked pretty good. Her skin seemed to be glowing more than it had in months, her hair, though still thin on top, had a gleam about it and she was aware of feeling more confident than she recalled being since her heyday.
She gave herself a small nod of satisfaction in the mirror and then headed downstairs, feeling ready to take on the world.

Part 17 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

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